It was POURING down rain this morning. So much rain, that if I were not the teacher, I DEFINITELY would have skipped class. We're talking about a monsoon. Much to my surprise, everyone showed up to class! They weren't the happiest campers, and they were pretty damp, and they were all sick (tis the season), but they were there. I was pretty impressed by that.
We started off our class with a "village building" activity. As we've said many times before, having the class feel like a family where the students feel able to challenge and support each other is really important to us. So we try to build in intentional opportunities for genuine interaction. We had the students pair up and go on a 15 minute walk — 7 minutes out and 7 minutes back. On the way out, Partner A can only ask questions, and Partner B can only answer them. It's a practice in good question asking, and also real listening (listening with the intent to understand, as opposed to the intent to respond). It would have been nicer if they could have gone outside, but because of the monsoon, they had to stay in the building. Either way, I think it's a nice way to begin class.
When they came back, we jumped into a whole bunch of listening. We listened to three of my favorite youth radio pieces back to back: Overcoming the Insult of Acting White (MPR Youth Radio), Not the Right Kind of Gay (Radio Rookies), and Gender Fluid Generation (Youth Radio). We discussed all three pieces, their likes and dislikes, similarities and differences, what worked and what didn't.
After our listening sesh, we went into our lesson about finding your story. We talked about topics versus stories, and how to drill down a specific story. We talked about their four story ideas. We talked about conflict, anecdotes, reflection, framing the story, and finding universal themes.
Then we switched over to working on our This I Believe essays. We went over major things to look for (causal writing, authentic voice, flow, anecdote and reflection) and then did peer edits. They read their essays out loud to each other, and gave feedback. We ran out of time at the end a little bit, but overall it was a good week!